BTSC under pressure to meet bus deadline
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BTSC under pressure to meet bus deadline

Surapong: 'Fine for missing deadline'
Surapong: 'Fine for missing deadline'

Bangkok Mass Transit System Plc (BTSC), the BTS Skytrain operator, is racing against time to supply Bangkok's Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) electric buses and have them up and running by the Sept 1 deadline.

BTSC entered into a contract on April 30 with the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) to procure the 23 EV buses for the BRT and operate them for five years at a cost of 478 million baht.

After the buses are procured, they need to pass a one-month trial period, which has raised concerns the vehicles might not be ready for their launch.

BTSC CEO Surapong Laoha-Unya said the company is sourcing chassis from China and the buses will then be assembled in Thailand.

He admitted the company was concerned it might not be able to meet the deadline due to a complex manufacturing process and the month's trial. He added the Chinese chassis supplier had assured him the chassis would be delivered on time.

Mr Surapong said that if the EV buses fail to enter service by the deadline, the BTSC will pay the BMA a contractual fine. The BTSC is expediting the process and pulling out all the stops to get everything ready by Sept 1. In addition, the fare will no longer be pre-paid at the station but on the bus.

Sitthiporn Somkitsan, deputy director-general of the BMA's Traffic and Transport Department, said the 24-seater, low-floor buses will be fueled by a 150 kWh lithium-ion-phosphate battery.

Universal design equipment will be installed to support commuters.

Deputy Bangkok governor Wisanu Subsompon said that the BRT operation will be made more flexible. To accommodate more commuters, the BRT buses will make stops outside their BRT-exclusive lanes.

The 15.7-km route will also be extended by 2 km from Sathon Road to Rama IV Road to allow passengers to interchange with the MRT Blue Line at Lumpini Station.

Mr Wisanu said the BRT will have doors on both sides--one set opening to BRT stations on the right and another opening to normal bus stops on the left.

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